China pumps AI-produced propaganda via humanoid virtual anchors

“Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency, has unveiled new “AI anchors” — digital composites created from footage of human hosts that read the news using synthesized voices.”

AI anchors have several advantages over human counterparts: they don’t need to sleep, eat, poop or take a salary.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s a wholly frightening idea that the 24/7 news cycle will be reduced to this one day. As we struggle to define the line between real news and fake news, we will also have to grapple with fake news anchors.

The Truth Is Out There

Following the backlash against YouTube and the struggle against fake news on Facebook, The New York Times is positioning itself as a truth leader.

If you thought The New York Times’ ad campaign featuring the tagline, “Truth. It’s more important than ever,” has been all about defending itself against President Trump’s “fake news” attacks, think again. Facebook and Google are also in the Times’ crosshairs.

“We believe that we’ve got a very credible story, not just about the importance of journalism, but about why journalism is a relationship with people,” said NYT CEO Mark Thompson, speaking to a few hundred marketers packed into Midtown Manhattan’s Times Center this morning for the first of two weeks’ worth of NewFronts events. “And if you can crack the code on that relationship, engage them, encourage them to pay, we can offer an environment and an engaged audience, which is very different from random bits of news on Facebook, social media or Google. It’s safer for brands.”

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Why It’s Hot

The walled gardens of Facebook and Google are in danger of crumbling as brand safety moves to the forefront of the conversation. While the Times does rely on Facebook tools and distribution, it is differentiating itself as a destination for those who are serious about their news consumption.

More Americans Turning to Social Media for News

Growing numbers of Americans are getting news from social media, but most of them don’t think social media is a valuable source of news, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, which surveyed 2,035 U.S. adults in March.

Pew found that the proportion of Twitter users who get news from the social site increased from 52% in 2013 to 63% in 2015, while the proportion among Facebook users rose from 47% to 63% over the same period. Within the 2015 figures, the share who said they use the social platforms to keep up with news as it was happening was 59% for Twitter and 31% for Facebook, reflecting the microblogging platform’s minute-by-minute structure.

Younger users are more likely to say the sites are useful for news. Among news users ages 18-34, 49% said Facebook and Twitter are an important, or the most important, way they get news. That compares to just 31% and 34% for news users ages 35 and up.

Why It’s Hot

While older users are still skeptical about getting their news from social media platforms, it’s clear that more and more consumers are turning to these platforms to stay up-to-date on news stories. For advertisers that are trying to reach audiences through news content this could soon shift traditional media buys from publications like CNN, NYT and Yahoo to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For brands aiming to surround “breaking news”, social advertising could be the new way to go.

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For Newsies: Now, the Push Notification is the App

Chances are that you probably have at least two different news apps on your devices that help you stay up to date on what’s happening in your areas of interest – whether it’s the local news, the latest tech updates and/or sports scores. Now, instead of wasting precious memory space on your phone, and much-needed time that you can’t afford to spare, two new apps will keep users ‘in-the-know’ of current events with a simple push notification from a single app.

The apps, called “Push” and “Drop,” save users from downloading multiple news apps and browsing different websites to get their news. Instead, the apps function primarily via push notifications.

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With both Push and Drop, users can follow a variety of topics and news outlets and be alerted of news by a push notification, which they can then open to visit the full article. Push is currently available via iTunes, and Drop is available for iOS and Android.

Read more via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Push and Drop come at a time when the way we use our smartphones and devices is changing. A Tech Crunch editor noted earlier this year a shift in app usage, “the rise of the invisible app,” as we move away from overwhelming, information overload and toward more targeted, specific information from our apps (a la Foursquare’s Swarm app and Broadcast from App.net).

The pull from Push and Drop is that the apps consolidate users’ multiple news sources into one. With that said, most apps already have built-in push notifications for breaking news stories. Setting up notifications on only specific topics or from certain sources may also leave users missing some news, but perhaps it’s a start.

Personally, while I tend to keep my register of iPhone apps to a minimum, I do like having my local news and New York Times apps separate.

Random – Predictive Content Discovery

“Random balances relevance and serendipity. It starts by suggesting topics that might be of interest to you. You then choose and get new content in front of you – be it a a blog post, video, photo or a news article. And then you choose again to find new things, at your own pace. You do not need to type in anything. You do not need to follow anyone. You do not need to sign in. The system learns from you and also brings up stuff from the periphery of your interests. Everyone has a unique journey when exploring new things.” — Jarno Koponen, Co-Founder

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Why It’s Hot?

Random uses a new discovery engine that they call “predictive discovery.”  An algorithm focused on collecting behaviors within the application instead of outside influences like social connections, search queries, or personal information.  This sort of predictive modeling has huge implications when thinking about the future of information discovery and how it is delivered to you.  Leaning less on linear delivery system to more of a non-linear, predictive and adaptive system that is tailored to your unique interests.

http://www.random.co/

Mexican Newspaper Prints Breaking Stories On Bathroom Towels

One newspaper in Mexico recently tried a unique way of getting people’s attention — by providing them breaking news printed on paper towels.

Mas Por Mas is a highly-circulated free newspaper that reached the top ten of Mexico’s largest circulation in only three years. The newspaper wanted to get more people to visit their website and worked with agency FCB Mexico to create a paper towel dispenser that printed out real-time news on the paper towels every time someone took a sheet to wipe their hands with.

FCB Mexico installed a printer inside the paper towel dispensers and connected them to the paper’s daily newsfeed via WiFi. Sensors were also built into the system to enable the machine to detect the presence of hands, and every time it detected someone’s hands, the dispenser printed out the latest news on the paper towel. The printer used a special kind of powdered ink that could be used in paper towels since it does not leave any stains on the hands.

Why it’s HOT: As odd as this tactic sounds, it only counts if it delivers. Sure enough, it appeared that the campaign worked — It grabbed people’s attention and the QR code and CTA were enough to increases traffic to the website. Advertisers and their agencies are constantly mulling over ways to break through the clutter and in Mexico, breaking through the clutter means breaking into the break room. But hey, it worked! Viva la unique media placements!